The ACC has been stranded in the SEC’s shadow
For years now, the ACC has been viewed as a “rival” of the SEC (especially in the realm of college football). This predominantly falls on the states that both of them touch, along with the paths they cross as a result (Florida/Florida State, South Carolina/Clemson, Georgia/Georgia Tech, and so on). None of that necessarily amounts to any true competition between the leagues in their entirety, though.
Simply put, there is absolutely no comparison to be made between the ACC and SEC when discussing national relevance. With Clemson having recently suffered its second 3-loss season straight, the Atlantic Coast Conference currently has no established title contenders in football—sorry Florida State fans, just having potential isn’t enough.
As for the Southeastern Conference, three of its members have taken the last four national championships in dominating fashion. We also have to consider the potential of its own revived programs like Tennessee and LSU, while also giving a nod to the league’s superior recruiting.
One might think that the gap between the two conferences could not possibly grow any larger, but conference realignment has made a mission out of putting that thought to rest.
Next year, the SEC will be adding the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners, two of college football’s most iconic programs. That blow would be hard for the ACC to soften regardless of the move(s) it made in retaliation, but the goal of keeping the “power conference” image will be exponentially harder to meet if it does nothing (a statement that should hopefully be self-explanatory).
But hey, it’s not the end of the world, right? I mean, the ACC is still seen as a strong basketball league, isn’t it? Sure, but the way its basketball teams — both men’s and women’s — have performed recently brings into question just how respected it will be in the coming years.